I came across this article on Lifehacker recently. It got me thinking. I had been using the OpenDNS servers and then Google’s Public DNS servers for a while now because they both advertised that it could speed up your internet experience. Now that there are so many location-based services and location-based load balancing, it seems that they may not necessarily be faster. So I tried the tool, Namebench, mentioned in that Lifehacker article. It turned out that if I switched back to Verizon’s (I’m a FiOS user) DNS servers, I could, in fact, speed up my internet. In fact, Namebench told me it would be about 500% faster by switching. So I switched my DNS servers in my router and will hope for the best. Keep in mind that you may not notice a huge difference, but when it comes to large downloads from services that use location-based mirrors determined by the DNS lookup, those might actually be noticeably faster.
Within a couple hours of sending out that email from my previous post, I received a call from the RI dispatch manager. He informed me that the email had been passed down to him and that he would do what he could to get a technician out to my house tonight. Additionally, he would track down the chain of events that led to the issues of my appointments getting mixed up and not happening as planned or explained to me. Once he had figured that out, he would contact me again. Shortly after, I received another call from someone in the executive customer relations office in New York explaining that he contacted the dispatch manager and basically explained the same thing, but also mentioned that he would be getting a report on how this problem occurred. A few minutes later, I received a call from the dispatch manager again, explaining that a technician would definitely be coming tonight.
As I write this, my Tivo now works with the CableCARD that was installed. While this whole process was very problematic and the CSR’s I dealt with did not do their jobs properly, I am happy with the outcome. I received as ideal an outcome as I could have expected. I did not want to have to leave work to have it installed tomorrow. The dispatch manager checked in with me again to make sure the job was done to my satisfaction and he would not accept my thanks as he knew his people were to blame. He again stated that he would be calling me tomorrow to explain what he found to be the cause of the problem.
I found it amusing was that the technician agreed with me on the CableCARD installation issue. He said that there is no reason they can’t give them to the customer pre-activated to allow the customer to install it themselves. I would take it one step further and say that Verizon should allow this, but charge the customer if a tech needs to come out because the customer ran into trouble during the installation. The technician’s mind was blown that the second order could not be completed until the first one had been closed. That’s also something that I found to be odd.
Regardless of what happened and what caused the problem, Verizon made things right. That is what I wanted in all of this, and that’s exactly what I got. I hope they will learn from this and prevent it from happening in the future. I have been very happy with the TV and Internet service I get from FiOS. I did not want this bad customer service experience to ruin that. I am glad I read The Consumerist as I would have never thought of trying to email a bunch of executives at Verizon to get this problem resolved properly.
I sent the following email to the Verizon executives that The Consumerist has compiled explaining the piss poor customer service I have received from their team. I am absolutely appalled that for a company so large, their customer service is so bad. I really wanted to be 100% happy with my FiOS service. That ended when I tried to get a CableCARD installed. Why they have to install them is beyond me. It’s basically a PCMCIA card, like the ones you used to put into the side of a laptop that didn’t have a modem or a NIC. The only step I would need assistance with is contacting Verizon to have it activated, though they could probably activate it at the Verizon store when I picked it up, leaving me to do nothing more than put it in my Tivo. There’s more after the jump…
As I posted a while back, I ended up switching from Cox High Speed Internet to Verizon FiOS. There were many reason for that switch, but here’s my thoughts on FiOS so far.
First, I’ll start with my bandwidth. I have more bandwidth available to me than I would have with Cox. It’s a tough judgement here because it’s noticeably faster, but part of that is because it should be. I have 20 mbps downstream and 5 mbps upstream. It’s quite convenient, but difficult to compare to my Cox connection because it wasn’t supposed to be as fast. However, I will say that my connection has been more reliable with FiOS than it ever was with Cox. With Cox, I had been through 3 cable modems (granted I’ve only had FiOS for a few months now) and always had a problem with dropped connections. I suppose it could’ve been my router (which I plan on trying to use with FiOS as I’ve heard there’s a way). Now their router, while it works well and does what I need to (and even seems to give off a stronger wireless signal than my Linksys that had 2 antennae) has a really crappy interface (warnings everytime you go into an “advanced” setting, even after you’ve confirmed a change in an advanced setting). The advanced settings shouldn’t be called advanced. People should be able to set their wireless encryption to WPA or WPA2 without having to go into an advanced area (that scares them away). I can’t change the DNS server (I used OpenDNS on my old router) and if you mistype an address, you go to Verizon’s error page/search engine (a little shady if you ask me, I’d rather get a “page cannot be displayed” message). However, I need to use their router because it grabs the on demand and guide for the set top box.
The TV service is also good. I like having HD service, though I’ve noticed that I can only get 1080i (my TV does 1080p). I don’t know if I have something configured wrong, if I have a crappy HDMI cable (came from Verizon and Gizmodo says it doesn’t matter), or if HD cable service only goes as high as 1080i. It really shouldn’t matter because based on the size of my TV and the distance it is from where we sit, I shouldn’t be able to tell the difference between 1080p and 720p. However, I can’t really compare it to my Cox service as I didn’t have HD with them. From time to time, I do notice some digital pixelation, but that can happen with any digital cable service.
The DVR, however, sucks ass. It had to be said. There are 2 reasons I’m using their DVR. The first is because I can’t afford a Tivo HD. The second is because even if I could afford a Tivo HD, I wouldn’t have the Verizon guide and I wouldn’t be able to use any of the on demand features (I may even lose out on the music channels, but I’m not sure on that). That being said, Tivo’s interface blows away the Verizon DVR. I’d also get a whole lot more storage from a Tivo and better multimedia capabilities without having to pay an extra fee (as with what I’d have to do do get those from my Verizon DVR).
So it’s not all roses over here in FiOS land, but it’s better than my experience with Cox. Cox’s support system was a whole lot better. They have phone numbers listed for easy access on their webpage. They had realistic hours (Verizon stops answering their phone at 6 pm). But the extra bandwidth and reliable service make FiOS better for me.
Update: Apparently, after doing a little research, the set top box is only capable of 1080i.
Now that I’m in my own house, I was finally able to make a choice between Cox and Verizon for my Internet/cable TV/landline phone needs. I chose Verizon FiOS (though it has yet to be installed).
While Cox offered me a better deal, there are a few reasons I went with Verizon. The first is that I screwed up when I chose Cox. I didn’t have them fix some of the coax wiring in the house so that the splitter was inside the house. There’s probably a good reason it’s outside, considering the house was built (and the walls haven’t been renovated) in 1935. It just made it difficult for me to go in and hook up a new cable drop when I got the new TV. I should have re-thought my plan for the TV when I moved in. But regardless, I was able to hook up the new TV.
The main reason I’m switching to Verizon is because of the alarm system that will be installed. They need to connect to the main phone line in the house. With Verizon, that’s at a main junction in the basement. With Cox, it’s wherever they put that cheapo cable modem with battery backup (which is upstairs in our office). I don’t want the ADT installers drilling through floors and ceilings if they don’t have to.
I’m also going with Verizon to get the cable re-done to the new TV (I did a totally ghetto job terminating the coax).
It’s more expensive, but I’ll have faster internet speeds (I went with the 20 Mbps down/5 Mbps up package) and I’ll actually have HD service on my TV (had to go with the more expensive package so I could get more HD channels than just the regular networks). Cox would have given me HD service, including HD channels for every channel I had that already had an HD equivalent and a DVR, for $25 more than I pay now, including taxes. Verizon is gonna cost me about $135/month before taxes, but the DVR is free for the first 6 months, so it’ll be $120 before taxes, likely being cheaper than Cox for the first 6 months. I also have the added benefit of unlimited long distance on the landline (not that I need it with my cell phone).
Once it’s installed and I’ve had time to play around, I’ll post again about my thoughts. If they can give me a more reliable internet connection, I’ll be happy. Cox has been spotty recently (unless it’s my Linksys router that’s dropping the connect, but I’ve never had a problem with it before).
So in my continuing theme of writing about Verizon’s FiOS fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) internet service, I’m going to tackle DSL. According to this Consumerist article, they replace their copper with fiber, eliminating the possibility of keeping (if you already have it) or purchasing (if you don’t already have it) Verizon DSL internet service. I don’t know if that’s the case everywhere. I had a hard time finding information about that other than what I just posted. Of course, that article only tackles one issue I have with most broadband providers and their restrictive port blocking and TOS practices, but it does not go into depth on the issue of whether or not Verizon is keeping their DSL service as an option for those areas that received the FiOS upgrade. So, while this guy got a free DSL upgrade, he lost functionality (even if it was breaking the TOS) and maybe he didn’t want FiOS and preferred the copper.
If what I fear is true and Verizon is slowly eliminating DSL, then we end up with no middle-of-the-road type of service. It’s all super high speed and all expensive (more expensive than most other countries in fact, and they still want to limit us by giving higher priority to content providers that pay a fee, meaning my blog would be slower than say Google, because I can’t afford to pay fees to the ISP’s, but net neutrality should have it’s own post). By eliminating the middle-of-the-road options for people, the ISP’s will suffer exactly what cable companies go through with people sharing their service by splitting it. There’s just one difference. It’s a whole lot easier to share an internet connection through wireless, which isn’t quite as easy with cable, especially now with digital cable and the need for a box. Verizon will only be shooting themselves in the foot if their cheapest internet package is $39.99 per month (while their DSL package, at least around here, can be had for $15/month). Now, I know Cox has some cheaper packages, going down to about $20 per month, but it’s slower than what Verizon’s DSL is.
Regardless of whether or not Verizon is getting rid of DSL or not, I think it would be pretty bad practice to completely rid themselves of all the copper wiring. After all, fiber optic cables need power as they don’t conduct electricity. I think a lot of people will begin to get upset if their phones stop working in power outages. I hope Verizon is thinking long and hard about this decision.
At some point I’m sure I’ll consider switching to FiOS, but again, not until after my contract with Cox has run its course. By then, I hope they both start using competition for what competition should mean… competitive pricing without restrictive contracts (much like my current Cox contract and my Verizon Wireless contract).
Here’s some other Consumerist articles regarding FiOS and Verizon (I have nothing against Verizon, just trying to figure out if FiOS really is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that some people make it out to be):
A friend of mine pointed me to this article from the Consumerist. Basically, it says that Verizon replaces the copper phone lines with the fiber optic cable. This means that your phone line will not work in the event of an extended power outage as their battery backup will only last 4 hours.
So, I have a question now… after getting another answer from a co-worker about FiOS being better than Cox because it’s a direct line that isn’t shared. Anyways, my questions is this: Will Verizon rip out the copper even if I do not have my landline phone service through them?
I do question some of the comments in the Consumerist article. I am not a fanboi of anything, but many of them seem to be FiOS fanboi’s. They make suggestions like “use your cell phone during an outage” (which would work so long as the cell phone was charged) or “people think 4 hours is a short period of time”. Come on now. Is Verizon, the big bad phone company that people loved to hate (and I still take issue with their wireless division and the ridiculous pricing and packages that cost more than any other carrier, though I still have them because they have the best service and good customer service), all of a sudden a god because they offer fiber to the home? Yet the competition hasn’t brought prices down as Verizon is charging just as much as the other providers and the only people who really care about fiber to the home (vs. cable or DSL) are geeks because the non-geeks just see the marketed speeds (which are the same for both my Cox High Speed Internet and Verizon FiOS) and the prices (which are again the same for me, though Cox offers me a $10 discount for having all 3 services from them – phone, cable, and internet – and now an additional $10 discount for signing on for 18 months, most likely to keep me from switching to FiOS when it’s introduced).
Well, this geek is still not 100% convinced that FiOS is worth it. Maybe if I notice a decrease in prices and the competitors actually duke it out (though Cox did offer me a decent discount, making my whole package less than it’d be with Verizon, not to mention Cox’s landline phone service is less expensive than Verizon’s). I guess we’ll see what the future holds in about 17 months when my Cox contract ends (around the same time my Verizon wireless contract ends).
Verizon FiOS is coming to RI and Providence. It’s already available in some areas. People are excited about it; however, I’m not convinced. What it does is bring in competition, which is always good. In a discussion with my fiancée’s brother, he explained to me that the benefit to FiOS is in the upstream speeds, with upstream speeds up to 2 Mbps. He went on to say that upstream speeds for most cable internet services is around 256 kbps. I was curious, knowing that Cox had been increasing their speeds for a while, and decided to check out what Cox offers. In their basic package, priced the same as the basic FiOS package (about $40 per month), Cox High Speed is 5 Mbps downstream and 2 Mbps upstream. In other words, it’s exactly the same as FiOS. Continue reading Verizon FiOS vs. Cox High Speed Internet